Study: Kids with COVID more likely to develop blood clots

Children who test positive for COVID-19 are much more likely to develop blood clots and heart problems weeks after their infection, compared to children who have not contracted the virus, a newly released study shows.

The study, published Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also found significantly higher rates of kidney failure and diabetes in those infected with the virus.

“A lot of the things they report are things we see,” says Dr. Howard Balbi, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip.

Many of the children who developed complications a few weeks after infection, including some who ended up in intensive care, initially had mild or no COVID-19 symptoms, he said.

dr. Andrew Handel, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, said the results of the study “confirm our suspicions”.

“We know that most children who get COVID do not have serious infections from it,” he said. “But a small proportion of these children will suffer permanent organ damage as a result of the infection.”

The study is the largest ever in the United States on the effects of “post-COVID-19” on children, defined as symptoms and conditions four or more weeks after infection. CDC researchers examined medical records of more than 3.1 million children and adolescents, from infants to 17-year-olds, of whom a quarter had tested positive for the coronavirus and the rest had not. The children were followed for 60 days to a year.

Children who had COVID-19 were twice as likely to have blood clots or pulmonary artery blockages caused by blood clots. They were also twice as likely to have cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle, or myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle.

Last year, the CDC warned of rare cases of myocarditis in adolescent and young adult men who received the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. Some parents interviewed by Newsday and other media outlets said fear of myocarditis was a factor in not having their children vaccinated.

But a CDC study published in April found that COVID-19 is much more likely than coronavirus vaccines to cause myocarditis, even in young men. The new study reiterates that COVID-19 is a greater threat to myocarditis, Handel said.

In addition, he said, “What we have seen anecdotally in the clinic? [at Stony Brook] but also in the research itself is that the myocarditis that children get from the vaccine is much, much, much less severe than if they experience it as a result of the infection itself. In general, when children get myocarditis after being vaccinated, they may have some mild symptoms that usually go away on their own within a day or two. But myocarditis that you get with the COVID infection itself can be devastating.”

COVID-19 causes inflammation, so it’s not surprising that the inflammation can last for longer in some children, said Dr. Mundeep Kainth, a pediatric infection specialist at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park.

“There is certainly already a known risk for everyone with COVID,” she said.

Children with COVID-19 were also about 1.3 times more likely to have kidney failure and about 1.2 times more likely to develop type 1 or type 2 diabetes or have problems with taste or smell, the study found.

The rate of malaise and fatigue in children with COVID-19 was only 1.05 times higher.

Studies have shown that fatigue is the most common symptom of adults with “prolonged COVID,” which the CDC defines as symptoms that persist for at least three months after first contracting the virus.

Handel said he is not surprised that fatigue rates are not higher in children.

“The symptoms associated with what we’ve long called COVID — fatigue, body aches, trouble thinking, and maybe some psychiatric symptoms — they’re really much less common in children for reasons we don’t fully understand,” he said.

Kainth said the lower rates of fatigue are also likely because children are generally more active than adults and are less likely to fatigue.

Still, Balbi said, multiple parents have told him that while their children who had become infected may not have severe post-COVID symptoms: “To quote the parent, ‘They’re just not themselves four months later. … They are not back to normal. They’re not that active, they’re not that interested in doing things.’ ”

Researchers cautioned that the study was not representative of the US pediatric population. About 70% of the children were enrolled in Medicaid-administered care. In addition, the analysis was based on medical records — meaning the children in the study who had not contracted the coronavirus “seeked medical attention,” Kainth said. “These weren’t quite healthy kids.”

If healthier kids had been part of the study, there might have been an even wider gap between kids who had COVID-19 and those who didn’t, she said.

Children who test positive for COVID-19 are much more likely to develop blood clots and heart problems weeks after their infection, compared to children who have not contracted the virus, a newly released study shows.

The study, published Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also found significantly higher rates of kidney failure and diabetes in those infected with the virus.

“A lot of the things they report are things we see,” says Dr. Howard Balbi, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip.

Many of the children who developed complications a few weeks after infection, including some who ended up in intensive care, initially had mild or no COVID-19 symptoms, he said.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Children who tested positive for the coronavirus were significantly more likely to develop blood clots, heart problems, kidney failure and diabetes than children who didn’t, a recently released CDC study found.
  • Long Island doctors said study backs what they have seen in hospitals. Many of the children who later developed complications initially had only mild COVID-19 or no symptoms at all, a pediatrician said.
  • Even though children are less likely to severe COVID-19 than adults, the study shows a small number of children will develop serious health problems, doctors say.

dr. Andrew Handel, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, said the results of the study “confirm our suspicions”.

“We know that most children who get COVID do not have serious infections from it,” he said. “But a small proportion of these children will suffer permanent organ damage as a result of the infection.”

The study is the largest ever in the United States on the effects of “post-COVID-19” on children, defined as symptoms and conditions four or more weeks after infection. CDC researchers examined medical records of more than 3.1 million children and adolescents, from infants to 17-year-olds, of whom a quarter had tested positive for the coronavirus and the rest had not. The children were followed for 60 days to a year.

Children who had COVID-19 were twice as likely to have blood clots or pulmonary artery blockages caused by blood clots. They were also twice as likely to have cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle, or myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle.

Last year, the CDC warned of rare cases of myocarditis in adolescent and young adult men who received the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. Some parents interviewed by Newsday and other media outlets said fear of myocarditis was a factor in not having their children vaccinated.

But a CDC study published in April found that COVID-19 is much more likely than coronavirus vaccines to cause myocarditis, even in young men. The new study reiterates that COVID-19 is a greater threat to myocarditis, Handel said.

In addition, he said, “What we have seen anecdotally in the clinic? [at Stony Brook] but also in the research itself is that the myocarditis that children get from the vaccine is much, much, much less severe than if they experience it as a result of the infection itself. In general, when children get myocarditis after being vaccinated, they may have some mild symptoms that usually go away on their own within a day or two. But myocarditis that you get with the COVID infection itself can be devastating.”

COVID-19 causes inflammation, so it’s not surprising that the inflammation can last for longer in some children, said Dr. Mundeep Kainth, a pediatric infection specialist at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park.

“There is certainly already a known risk for everyone with COVID,” she said.

Children with COVID-19 were also about 1.3 times more likely to have kidney failure and about 1.2 times more likely to develop type 1 or type 2 diabetes or have problems with taste or smell, the study found.

The rate of malaise and fatigue in children with COVID-19 was only 1.05 times higher.

Studies have shown that fatigue is the most common symptom of adults with “prolonged COVID,” which the CDC defines as symptoms that persist for at least three months after first contracting the virus.

Handel said he is not surprised that fatigue rates are not higher in children.

“The symptoms associated with what we’ve long called COVID — fatigue, body aches, trouble thinking, and maybe some psychiatric symptoms — they’re really much less common in children for reasons we don’t fully understand,” he said.

Kainth said the lower rates of fatigue are also likely because children are generally more active than adults and are less likely to fatigue.

Still, Balbi said, multiple parents have told him that while their children who had become infected may not have severe post-COVID symptoms: “To quote the parent, ‘They’re just not themselves four months later. … They are not back to normal. They’re not that active, they’re not that interested in doing things.’ ”

Researchers cautioned that the study was not representative of the US pediatric population. About 70% of the children were enrolled in Medicaid-administered care. In addition, the analysis was based on medical records — meaning the children in the study who had not contracted the coronavirus “seeked medical attention,” Kainth said. “These weren’t quite healthy kids.”

If healthier kids had been part of the study, there might have been an even wider gap between kids who had COVID-19 and those who didn’t, she said.

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